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10/01/2009

ANTICHRIST NAMED?

Recently an email came across my desk and a friend asked for my opinion on the video linked in the mailing. A video that presented the concept that Christ had named the Anti-Christ. Leaving the decision to the viewer, the video presented a word study of a single verse in scripture. These words in the their original language, in theory, bear a resemblance to the name 'Barack Obama.'

So I reviewed the video and here are my conclusions:

"After reviewing the film, asking some scholars, and reviewing the text I would conclude the video is very interesting, challenging, and apparently logical. That is only half of the story however, since whenever one goes to the Biblical text, the first questions to be asked are not minute, arcane word meanings, but rather, 1) what is the context for this statement? and 2) how did the original speaker or audience understand this text?

That is where the video breaks down somewhat. The second point is context. The cited text (Luke 10:18), as a reference to the Antichrist, is an error.

The context of the statement (and context must always be considered in interpreting scripture) seems to refer only to the original fall of Satan (the Isaiah reference in the video) and there is nothing (no traditional prophetic clue words, etc.) that indicate this is a prophecy about the antichrist in any way.
Jesus appears to be citing something in the past - and not in the future.
Instead, Jesus chides them that instead of boasting over the power they welded as His emissaries (the demons quaked, Lord) they should instead be simply thankful of their salvation because it was HE WHO SAW the original fall of the troublemaker...in other words...'it's not you guys doing any of this but the might and the power of God."

Further, the statement that Aramaic was the earliest form of Hebrew is also in error. Most sources confirm that was a dialect related but which emerged in the northwest boundaries of the Semitic territories. It appears to have been a dialect of the Palestinian region and separate from the traditional Hebrew of scripture, especially early Hebrew. It was a common language of trade and the marketplace just as Koine Greek was the 'universal language; of Mediterranean commerce.

Children learned a more formal Hebrew for the sacred reading of the Torah in service, a more extreme version of how American children once learned a more formal language in Elizabethan English than the language they spoke daily. Moreover, the New Testament was written in Koine Greek - regardless of what language the speakers might have spoken. The common language for communication and commerce was Greek. Looking for word meanings in Hebrew (or related dialects) for insight into the Greek text is faulty logic.
Words change and shift in such evolution of language. Skakespeare's use of 'naughty' in the 1500's meant severely wicked.....now it means slightly impolite. Thus the importance of understanding how an original audience heard and understood the words."
I would also add that it is a worrying thing - this tendency to identify and label one as "The AntiChrist". A decade ago it was George Bush, before that Bill Clinton, and before that.... the list is endless. Why should we care? Should not our focus - as Christians - be on the task to be Christ like to those around us? To preach the gospel? To feed the hungry? To clothe the naked? To be the image of Christ to those around us?
One of the most thought provoking books of the last century was a small, mostly obscure work, that challenged people to really cause trouble by asking, "What would Jesus do?"
What indeed.

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